Danish Lessons

Greetings from Århus. I’m staying here with Phanarath until I return to the Great Satan later this week. I’ll be posting about the Counterjihad Summit in due course, once I get home, collect my notes, upload my photos, and have access to an English-based keyboard. While I’m here, though, I can at least spell the names of places that I’ve visited, such as Nørrebro.

This is the first real access I’ve had to a computer since I got here last week. I see that Dymphna has been more than making up for my absence, even posting about Malmö — poaching on my turf!

It has been really inspiring to meet at long last some of the people who comment here, to put faces and voices and personalities to what had previously been merely text on a screen. Besides Phanarath, I have been spending time with Exile, Steen, Henrik (of Viking Observer), Kepiblanc, Aeneas, Gaia, Asger, Fjordman, Zonka, Anders Gravers, and a number of my email contacts. There are others I’m leaving out whose nicknames I’m not sure of (or because I forgot!) — but you know who you are, and I thank you for being there.

I have learned three additional (and very important) words in Danish: “Hvor er toileten?” which means approximately: “I say, could you tell me the way to the sanitary facilities?”

I’ve been enthusiastically trying to learn Danish, because my etymological experience made it obvious to me that Danish is closely related to Old English.

But that’s just the written language. The spoken language, especially in København, has lost about 80% of its consonants, replacing them mostly with glottal stops (which are like soft Viking hiccups) between syllables. The result is that, to the untrained ear, Danish sounds like English spoken by a Glaswegian with a mouth full of cake batter.

I found the following story (unfortunately not available online) about how the Danes first lost all those consonants. It concerns the initial migration of the Vikings from Jutland to Sealand via Fyn and the Store Bælt under the leadership of Torvald the Blind:

The longboats were well out to sea when a terrible storm arose, with lightning and hail and high wind, so that the ships were in danger of being swamped.

In order to keep the people from perishing, Torvald ordered his men to collect all the consonants on board and throw them over the side to lighten the load. The plan was successful, and, despite the awful tempest, Torvald and his crew landed safely on the western shore of Sealand.

It is for this reason that we have lost all our consonants, and even today the folk of Copenhagen are forced to converse without them.

I have been working hard to connect what I read with what I hear, and have thus become an annoyance to every Dane who comes near me, demanding definitions, pronunciations, and generally being an Anglo-Saxon nuisance. Steen can tell you all about it, and probably already has.

I’ll be back to normal blogging sometime later this week, but I’ll just leave you with a quick story. Yesterday in Copenhagen I was sitting with Steen and Phanarath at a sidewalk cafe — it has been very warm and pleasant since I got here — when a Polish friend of Steen’s happened to walk by. The man was quite familiar with Gates of Vienna, and we had a brief conversation about it. Then he asked, “When are you going back to Austria?”

I told him that I was not Austrian, despite the name of our blog, and that he was not the first person who had thought the same thing. Steen then explained the symbolic significance of the name of our blog.

“Oh, I see,” his friend said. “But you are European, aren’t you?”

“No, I’m American.”

He seemed quite surprised, and gave me a big smile. Then we shook hands again and said our farewells, and he continued down the street.

[Nothing further]

6 thoughts on “Danish Lessons

  1. It seems that the Danes have affectionately taken the good Baron to heart, here is a quick summary of the Baron’s visit, posted on Steen’s Blogg. I hope that Steen will forgive me for any loss of nuances in the translation. VENI. VIDI. VICI. Are three words that immediately spring to mind.

    Denmark has in Baron Bodissy from the Gates of Vienna in the USA a great and unusual friend. After three days with this buzzing poly-historian and hibernated hippie, one becomes a little confused by his enthusiasm and love of the land, it cannot be true that we are so wonderful? His passions are etymology and Bach, but his is just as at home in the history of art, migration, India, China, Afghanistan, and Islam, as in Shakespeare’s sonnets and Wilfred Owen’s poems, besides being a political carnivore, and a civilized human being. During all of his visit to Copenhagen he has frenziedly practiced his newly acquired Danish, very impressive.
    There will undoubtedly come more out of the meeting, but I am now forced to post The Baron’s tale to the gathered Danes Norwegians Swedes and English. Baron Bodissy, Denmark’s foremost visitor is getting ready to conquer Jutland. Thank you for coming, Baron, it was our pleasure, don’t let 40 years go by before your next visit.

  2. Ah yes that danish trick of swallowing most of the word. The first time I visited Denmark I had to stay in a youth hostel in a place called Ringsted. The train driver announced all the places just before the train stopped which was a good thing as I was finding it hard to see the station names. So I heard something like “Rinser” (or was that “Windsor”?) and relaxed because clearly we haven’t got the Ringsted yet based on the lack of “g” “t” & “d” in the announcement. Well I was wrong and just as the train was about to leave I realized this, gathered my enormous snail like backpack and threw myself through the doors.

  3. Baron Bodissy: It was a pleasure to meet you and all others this weekend. A great meeting with nice people. And people that really knows what we are up against.

    Well..you know what you need to know in danish as long as you can order a beer and ask for the way to the “sanitary facilities”.

    Now you can also start to learn swedish. We need you here too.



    Thanks and keep up the great work – we will meet again.


  4. it’s good to know you are alive and well. I didn’t realize they don’t have phones in Denmark or otherwise I’m sure you would’ve called home by now.

    Ah well, enjoy the beer and the sanitary facilities.

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